The Disappearence of Haruhi Suzumiya

August 25th, 2012 by Author

My views on Disappearance were largely informed by Evirus, starting with the camrip post and following up with the full-res pass. I’m pretty sure that Jonathan and Aziz must’ve blogged it too, but their websites are malfunctioning, so posts are impossible to find. Anyway, I do not remember them posting. Evirus, however, gave me a good taste of my own medicine.

Anime blogging is done with two classes of readers in mind: those who have watched the anime and those who have not. The first class is by definition spoiler-proof. It looks for joint celebration, detail clarification, and/or nostalgic kick. The second class is spoiler-sensitive and looks for advance information. Blogging for the two is generally incompatible, but a blogger cannot know the future class breakdown. One approach is a non-spoiling celebration, such as Visual Retrospective at Ani-nouto. It’s quite effective, but still a compromise. When I read the following as a 2nd Class Reader, I had not the clue about the power of the transmission:

Kyon’s happiness at seeing her again is our happiness. So too seeing the Haruhi we know emerge from the Shoushitsu Haruhi we meet at first.

Yes.

Without revealing too much about the plot or the movie’s secrets, Shoushitsu gives us a privileged look into the mind of a girl we thought we knew — one we’ve perhaps taken for granted because she has been so reliable.

YES (made explicit in voice-over just to pound it to stupid viewers though).

Well, for one thing, it is much more apparent how warm all of the scenes with Disappearance Nagato Yuki are. Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu is very much a winter movie, with a mostly gray palette and bitterly cold scenes. In contrast, Nagato appears to fill the clubroom with warmth.

Wow yes. I didn’t consciously notice it.

Still, 2nd Class people reading about AKB0048 will not understand either.

Anyhow, it was a very good anime movie.

But I did not like its Kyon any more than before. He’s extremely weak-minded and neurotic in the beginning, for one thing. But most importantly, I disagree with his choice. In an ordinary anime, like Honey and Clover, the opposing messaging would destroy all value. In a decent anime, like Railgun, it dealt a heavy damage. In Disappearance it’s the creative freedom that I grant to the author and director.

In addition, a certain logic underpins Kyon in Haruhi, that does not yield well. A regular battered husband has an agency, which Kyon lacks. In the original, it was possible that Kyon was actually created this way by Haruhi. If he were not up to her expectations, the whole would could be unmade in an instant.

Frank Herbert tackled a similar problem in God-Emperor of Dune, with the titular god-emperor and Duncan Idaho. The former went through several iterations of Duncan, trying to get the ideal one, but had to kill him every time and re-clone anew from saved genetic stock. The best and final iteration was the opposite of Kyon, purely by luck, I think.

After all said, it is ironic that I only watched it because it was a present, and so because it was only $20. The obvious question: is it worth the price? Immediately, I thought no. But things are expensive these days, and $20 for about 3 episodes worth of very high quality anime does not sound so bad. Try to find an airplane rental for $90 an hour anymore. Disappearance is almost 3 hours.

The final question is, should someone who’s not seen the TV series buy the movie? It is extremely referrential, but perversely, I think it would be ok. People watch psychodelic movies that make no sense at all, and this is better, so by all means, enjoy. I disclaim all responsibility though.

UPDATE: Omo comments on the meta.